Single-cycle and multiple-cycle proof testing (SCPT and MCPT) strategies for reusable aerospace propulsion system components are critically evaluated and compared from a rigorous elastic-plastic fracture mechanics perspective. Earlier MCPT studies are briefly reviewed. New J-integral estimation methods for semielliptical surface cracks and cracks at notches are derived and validated. Engineering methods are developed to characterize crack growth rates during elastic-plastic fatigue crack growth (FCG) and the tear-fatigue interaction near instability. Surface crack growth experiments are conducted with Inconel 718 to characterize tearing resistance, FCG under small-scale yielding and elastic-plastic conditions, and crack growth during simulated MCPT. Fractography and acoustic emission studies provide additional insight. The relative merits of SCPT and MCPT are directly compared using a probabilistic analysis linked with an elastic-plastic crack growth computer code. The conditional probability of failure in service is computed for a population of components that have survived a previous proof test, based on an assumed distribution of initial crack depths. Parameter studies investigate the influence of proof factor, tearing resistance, crack shape, initial crack depth distribution, and notches on the MCPT versus SCPT comparison. The parameter studies provide a rational basis to formulate conclusions about the relative advantages and disadvantages of SCPT and MCPT. Practical engineering guidelines are proposed to help select the optimum proof test protocol in a given application.